MALLOC_CHECK_ and MALLOC_PERTURB_

Recent versions of Linux glibc (2.x) include a a malloc() implementation tunable using environment variables. This allows the user to diagnose allocation problems such as heap corruption, double free etc.

When MALLOC_CHECK_ is set to 3, a diagnostic message is printed on stderr and the program is aborted. A value of 0 disables the diagnostic – see man malloc for more details.

Setting the MALLOC_PERTURB_ environment variable causes the malloc functions in libc to return memory which has been wiped and initialized with the byte value of the environment variable. Setting MALLOC_PERTURB_ to zero disables the feature.

No special arguments need to be passed during program compilation. These diagnostics work on any precompiled programs. Unlike valgrind, the speed of execution is not affected.

$ export MALLOC_CHECK_=3
$ export MALLOC_PERTURB_=$(($RANDOM % 255 + 1))
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